A Defense of the Catholic Religion
The Necessity, Existence, and Limits of the Infallible Church
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
The Benedictine Beda Mayr,OSB, (1742–1794) was one of the main figures of the German Catholic Enlightenment. He was not only the first Catholic to wrestle with the challenges of Reimarus and Lessing, but also the first to develop an ecumenical methodology for a reunion of the churches. The text, translated from the German original for the first time, presents a theologian who intentionally went to the margins of orthodoxy in order to allow for more interconfessional dialogue. Mayr argued that Catholic theology should follow minority opinions for unsettled dogmatic questions, which would allow for easier union agreements with Protestant churches. Moreover, he suggested limiting ecclesial infallibility to directly revealed truths, thereby reducing the authoritative truth claims of conciliar or papal decisions.
Although the study of Catholic Enlightenment is booming among historians and theologians, too few texts are available in reliable translations. A major strength of this edition is not only that its introduction introduces the reader to the colorful landscape of eighteenth-century theological discussions, but also presents the entire text of Mayr's book (with the exception of its appendix) thereby allowing the reader to see the strengths and weaknesses of Enlightenment ecumenism.
Mayr's Limited Infallibility was put on the Index of Forbidden Books, on which it remained until the 20th Century. It invites readers to a modern, non-scholastic way of theologizing for the sake of Christian unity.